New Delhi, Feb 4: Seeking incusion of Patna in the Smart City list, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar toady met Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and discussed various issues related to urban development in the state.
Kumar insisted on factoring in parameters like regional imbalance, existing gaps in institutional capabilities and variation in current level of development while selecting cities under the Smart City Mission.
Noting that state capital Patna could not be shortlisted for inclusion in Smart City Mission, Kumar suggested that all such state capitals should be given another opportunity to compete for selection in the Centre's ambitious project.
Besides Smart City, he took up the issue of implementation of new urban sector initiatives of the Centre and Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Chief Minister suggested Naidu to consider increasing the central assistance of Rs 4,000 per toilet being provided under Swachh Bharat Mission in rural areas and said the state government was providing an additional Rs 8,000 per toilet. He also sought an increase in the Viability Gap Funding by the centre from the present 20 per cent of project cost.
Kumar said the state government is providing an additional assistance of Rs 1,200 per household for collection and management of solid waste in urban areas. Naidu told Kumar that inclusion of cities from each state in Smart City Mission was based on the evaluation of all claimant cities by respective state governments.
The selection of first batch of 20 cities was based on a competition among 97 cities as per criteria evolved in consultation with states, he told the Chief Minister. Naidu said only 20 cities were to be selected in the first round and nominees from all states would be covered under the next two rounds of competition.
Naidu also informed Kumar that a special fast track competition is being conducted for one top ranked city from each of the 23 states that could not make it to the first list in which Bhagalpur, ranked 65, can participate. Of the three cities from Bihar included in the Smart City Mission, Biharsharif was ranked 91 and Muzaffarpur 94.
In the meeting, Naidu underscored the need for focusing on improving urban governance in the state given the importance of towns and cities in catalyzing economic growth.
He also said more attention needed to be paid to Swachh Bharat Mission in Bihar, besides expediting proposals under Housing for All mission meant for the urban poor. He said said a detailed project report in respect of Gaya under Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) should also be speeded up.